This book is shit. It’s not a “different people like different things” situation. If you enjoyed this book, I’m sorry, but you’re wrong. Yes, your enjoyment is wrong. The number of good reviews that this has on Goodreads and Amazon is appalling, but still not as appalling as this sorry excuse for a garbage fire of a book. I am actually offended by how bad this book is. Let’s unpack this.
First, maybe you’re thinking “If it’s so bad, why did you read it?” Well, I’ll tell you why. Because I’d had three DNFs in a row and I vowed to finish the next book no matter what. Man, did I make that vow at the wrong time. Also, it was only 150 pages. Also, I’m an idiot. Because I read her stupid terrible As the World Dies book which is just about as bad. That book broke my heart, because I’ve been dying to find a zombie book that spends some time on how a group rebuilds long-term. Sure, it lacks the adrenaline of the initial outbreak, but I’d love to see how people actually start to create a new world once the worst of the chaos has settled. The original book kinda went there, but it was buried in gross characters and horrific writing. I don’t know what I expected from this one but I guess I should not be surprised.
It’s meant to be a few short stories about characters from the main book. First is a very short vignette about the death of a character from the first book. It was awful. The couple had allegedly been married for years but woke up playing with each other’s hair and whispering sweet nothings. Then a very short but actually decent (like 3 stars decent, there’s not one sentence of good writing in this book) story about an encounter on the road between two survivors. Then an ungodly long, absolutely pointless, drying-paint boring backstory for a minor character from the book. This story just about killed me. A dude is in a B&B when the outbreak happens. He holes up for a while. Meets some survivors. Takes his dog out to pee every few paragraphs. It’s incredibly repetitive and flat and honestly you could’ve printed the book, cut each paragraph out, thrown them into a bowl, and selected a new order for them at random and it wouldn’t have made much difference. His dog pees. The weather is surprisingly nice with all the horror. He kinda misses his girlfriend. Ahh it’s a zombie. His dog needs to pee again. The birds are chirping. So on. Every time anyone says “God,” they say “Gawd.” There will not ever be a moment in the entire story when you don’t know what the dog is doing. There, you pretty much just read the whole book. Now you can skip it. Thank me later.
Rather than just leaving this as the worst review ever, can we talk about the zombie genre for a moment? I know a lot of people think the genre is dead. Or is it? (See what I did there?) I get why. It’s been done, a thousand times. But I don’t think it has to be. The thing is, you can’t just tell the story anymore. It has to have something special. No one but an absolute first-timer wants to read a mediocre story about a few survivors traveling from shelter to shelter, some in-fighting will occur, one of them is trying to find their family members, they have some close calls, a few food supply crises, blah blah. I could make a Zombie Book Mad Libs, have ten different people fill it out, and have ten different books with the exact same publishability as what’s already out there ad infinitum. The concept alone isn’t enough anymore. There was a time when the scene where our hero busts into an abandoned gas station to scavenge for food and it seems calm but oh shit it’s a zombie was novel enough and startling enough to hide bad or lazy writing behind the premise. Or a dozen other scenes exactly like it. That time has passed. Now, you need one of a few things. A unique spin on the concept. A lot of people have gone for the “sentient zombies” gimmick, which I don’t personally enjoy but okay, I can respect it. Same for twists on how the virus works or how it came to be. Maybe the long-term rebuilding angle. Maybe a truly novel group’s survival (prisoners? Nuns? A barricaded maternity ward? I don’t know, guys). Or you could tell the same damn story with really solid writing and character development. I’d read that.
But 37 years after Dawn of the Dead came out and several years after the zombie trend opened its eyes and sat back up, you can’t (or shouldn’t) get away with crapping out the Mad Libs version of a “band of survivors” story with nothing whatsoever but the most barebones premise that’s been done for decades to justify its existence.